Transporting ladders on the top of your vehicle can have inherent dangers if not done properly. Even if you’re very careful, ladder accidents happen quite often with the after effects quite devestating. Insecure ladders can slip off vehicles and collide with pedestrians or other vehicles while driving due to vibrations and pot holes in the road surface.
This article will discuss and help to guide you on how to transport ladders safely by using a roof rack that attaches to the roof of your car and ladder clamps. A roof rack will keep your ladder stable without any risk of it detaching during transport.
If you are thinking about purchasing a longer set of aluminium ladders or indeed already own some, at some stage you may need to transport them to another location. Before you do so, it is important to think about several points first. This is even more relevant if you are unfamiliar with the process of transporting ladders and the items needed to do it.
In this article, we will discuss the law on transporting longer items, ensuring that the ladder transport is safe and also protecting your precious ladder cargo from unscrupulous thieves that might want to relieve you of them!
Why do I need a roof rack and ladder clamps?
The reason the use proprietary ladder accessory equipment is ultimately down to safety. If a badly done job of securing a set of long ladders is carried out, the consequences could be catastrophic and in the worst case, end in tragic death. Even as a normal everyday citizen, everyone has a duty of care under the law not to put innocent bystanders at risk of injury.
When the cost the equipment is low, there really is no excuse not to do it properly. It really is not recommended to use anything that hasn’t been manufactured and tested.
So why do you need you need to use a roof rack and ladder clamps?…..it could save a life!
The roof rack or roof rack bars are a manufactured solution for carrying a range of equipment, luggage, roof boxes and even roof top tents! They will have been tested rigorously and are the safest way to carry loads on top of your vehicle. Many roof rack systems are universal but it’s always best to check they will definitely fit your vehicle.
If you don’t have any roof bars yet, you can quickly look on Amazon by clicking here and then come back.
Legal overhang on roof rack UK
Okay, I know it’s painful but let’s get legal for a moment. The legal requirements regarding overhanging loads or equipment in the UK used be contained under Section 26 of VOSA. (The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency) This government department has now closed and has been superseded by regulations 81 and 82 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 act.
You can find the full act here if you wish to take a look and come back.
In summary, the basic outline is as below: (Source: www.gov.uk)
|Length of projection||Action if load projects rearwards||Action if load projects forwards|
|Not exceeding 1 metre||No requirements specified||No requirements specified|
|More than 1 metre, but not exceeding 2 metres||End must be made clearly visible. (C&U Schedule 12, para 4||No requirements specified.|
|More than 2 metres, but not exceeding 3.05 metres.||Marker boards required (C&U Schedule 12, para 3)||Attendant required (C&U schedule 12, para 2), Marker boards required (C&U schedule 12, para 3|
|Exceeding 3.05 metres||Two clear working days notice to Police (C&U Schedule 12, paragraph 1), Attendant required (C&U Schedule 12, paragraph 2), Marker boards required (C&U Schedule 12, paragraph 3||Two clear working days notice to Police (C&U Schedule 12, paragraph 1), Attendant required (C&U Schedule 12, paragraph 2), Marker boards required (C&U Schedule 12, paragraph 3|
The specifics of the marker boards for overhangs are contained in the act.
In reality, if you have a set of aluminium ladders that have ladder section lengths of 5 or 6 metres, when centred on your roof rack bars, you will either be in the bracket of having no requirements or at most, making the rear overhang more visible which is basically just good good skills anyway.
Ladder clamps and ratchet straps
Okay, we are going to assume that you have found a fantastic set of roof rack bars over on Amazon for your vehicle. The next thing to talk about is how those aluminium ladders get securely attached to your roof bars.
There are a couple of ways you can do this. One way is to use what is called a ‘ratchet’ strap. These are basically straps made from either nylon or polyester that have a specially designed buckle. This buckle allows the strap to run through it when you depress a small clamp on the buckle. You then tighten your load and release the clamp which then keeps the tension on until you depress the clamp again.
These are a very cheap solution for strapping down loads but in some cases, loads can still move around a little if not done correctly. They are definitely one common way to strap down loads.
Ladder clamps for roof racks
At Best Ladder Access, our preferred method of securing ladders to roof racks is by using purpose made ladder clamps. These are again a very low cost solution and will secure ladders so that there is no movement at all. Using this method will give you total peace of mind when transporting your ladders.
The ladder clamp comprises of a threaded hook bar that hooks under the roof rack bar. The top horizontal top bar sits on top of your ladders and then winder spins around pulling the whole thing together clamping it tightly to your roof bar.
Many ladder clamps have pre drilled holes so that padlocks can be fitted to them. This prevents them from being unwound and your ladders removed from the roof of your vehicle.
Quick release ladder clamps
Other variations of the traditional ladder clamps are quick release versions which are very popular. Instead of winding a clamp down, they have a quick release lever that removes the tension from the hook. These can be 4 to 5 times quicker to release the ladders. These are usually made from tough composite plastic material.
Ladder clamp and ratchet choices
Fortem Ratchet Straps
What we like:
Load capacity of 680 Kg
Rubber handles really help grip
What could be better:
Can be tricky at first until mastered
What we liked about the Fortem ratchet strap set is that they come with 4 straps. These are really heavy duty and feel very ergonomic due to the rubber coatings. These make them very easy to grip. The straps are made from polyester which makes them very strong. These particular straps have a safe working load capacity of well over 500 pounds with a breaking load of 1500 pounds!!
The loops are soft so they aren’t abrasive and the hooks are coated for weather resistance. They are very easy to use once you have practiced the working mechanism.
Rhino Ladder Clamps
Van Ladder Clamps
What we like:
Caters for roof bars up to 55mm wide
Lightweight tough composite material
Spare parts are always available
Has patented locking with keys for security
What could be better:
Difficult to find drawbacks for price point
These ladder clamps made by Autorack are flexible enough to fit most, if not all roof rack bars as the hooks are 55mm wide. One feature we really liked was the extra strength of the hook because its folded into right angles and not round.
The main hook bar is also 12mm thick where a lot of others are only 10mm. Even though the composite material has been impact tested to resist hard knocks, spares are available if they are ever needed. They are made from heavy duty glass fibre reinforced plastic so they’re strong, reliable and easy to use.
One of its best features is that the ladder clamps incorporate a locking system with its own keys so nobody can walk off with your ladders!
Really sturdy and value for money.
TB Davies Universal Roof Rack Ladder Clamps
What we like:
Fits any roof rack
Fits any ladder
Simple to install
Zinc plated to resist corrosion
Padlocks are included
What could be better:
Padlocks could be better quality
Coming from the manufacturer TB Davies, you know this will mean quality. These are heavy duty ladder clamps which are manufactured in the UK from zinc plated mild steel for long life. These clamps can replace ratchet straps or rope to tie your ladder to your roof rack.
Holes drilled into the locking bars also let you padlock your ladders to prevent theft. They are very easy to fit and require no tools to fit. Simply hook the clamp around your roof bar and thread the bearer bar down to rest on the ladder.
Lock in place with the padlock which included. They are easy to remove from your roof rack and easy to use with ladders and step ladders as the ladder clamps are designed to work on any roof rack system. This is peace of mind for those who are not confident using rope or ratchet straps.
We felt that the padlocks could of been of better quality but they can easily be replaced.
The closing thoughts on transporting ladders on a vehicle must be of safety first. The ramifications of a sizeable set of ladders detaching from the roof of a vehicle is unthinkable in terms of pedestrians and other vehicles, particularly at speed. Roads these days are uneven and cause vibration, as well as having numerous pot holes.
These can cause ladders to move or detach. Having a purpose made ladder clamp system on a roof rack or bars is the safest way to transport them.